“Urinetown,” the Tony Award-winning musical with the cringeworthy name, sings and dances across the stage at Carroll College’s FLEX Theatre 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28. Shows run through Oct. 7.
Director Kim Shire, assistant professor of theater, admits “Urinetown” wasn’t even on her radar screen.
“My seniors have been bothering me since they were freshmen,” she said. “They liked the show and want to do it.
“I’m not so into bathroom humor,” she said of her initial resistance. “I didn’t really know the show.
“There is some bathroom humor, but it’s not like ‘Dumb and Dumber’ or playing to the lowest denominator. It’s actually very intelligent and it has some really important points to make.”
“Urinetown” is a farce with a message.
And it fits really well with the theater season’s theme, she said, which is the African word Ubuntu. It means “I am because we are.”
It’s about the interconnectedness of people.
The play’s action unfolds in a Gotham-like city that’s suffering a severe water shortage caused by a 20-year drought.
In response, the government has banned private toilets.
All citizens must use public amenities regulated by a single malevolent company -- Urine Good Company -- that profits by charging toilet fees.
Those who break the rules are banished to Urinetown and never return.
When the company announces a new fee hike, a hero -- Bobby Strong, who works at the poorest public amenity, revolts.
“He is a revolutionary leader who wants everyone to pee-for-free,” said Carroll senior Jamie Severson, who plays Bobby.
It’s not a traditional play, said Severson. “It’s a satirical comedy. The acting is very sarcastic and melodramatic.
“It uses melodrama to uncover underlying themes of corporate mismanagement, government control and big business.”
Severson, a public health major, is thrilled to have landed the lead role.
“The music is really impressive,” he said, with lots of four-part harmonies, quartets and duos.
“They’re a great backbone for the play.
“It’s hilarious. You’ll be laughing throughout the entire play.”
The play not only has plenty of jokes, but also pokes fun at itself and musical theater in general.
See if you can catch its blatant copycat versions of famous songs from such hit musicals as “Les Misérables,” “Fiddler on the Roof” and “West Side Story.”
Written by Mark Hollmann, with book and lyrics by Greg Kotis, “Urinetown” was inspired by Kotis’ encounter with a pay toilet when traveling in Europe as a student.
The play won three Tony Awards, including Best Original Score and Best Book of a Musical.
Shows are at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 28, 29 and Oct. 4, 5, 6, with 2:30 p.m. matinees on Sept. 30 and Oct. 7.
Parking is free in the Campus Center lot off of Lyndale Avenue for all performances. The theatre is fully ADA accessible through the east entrance of the Campus Center. Tickets are $15 for general admission, $10 for students and seniors, $5 for children 12 and younger, and $5 with a current Carroll College ID. They are available at the door or online at https://secure.touchnet.net/C23359_ustores/web/store_main.jsp?STOREID=67&SINGLESTORE=true.